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7 Big Marketing Mistakes for Small Businesses To Avoid

By October 10, 2017November 14th, 2023No Comments

Small business owners are a busy bunch of folks who have better things to think about than the confusing details of internet marketing. But while these folks focus rightly on what is most urgent in their business, they may be ignoring some of the biggest marketing mistakes small businesses make.

We have assembled a quick list of big marketing mistakes for small businesses to avoid.

Ignore Reputation

Who has time to deal with Yelp! trolls? No one, frankly. But while you might say “I don’t count on online reviews to obtain new business”, you might be creating a bit of a self-fulfilling prophesy. If you ignore your online reviews and other online reputation indicators, you might be ensuring that you gain no new business from this rapidly growing marketing channel, especially for locally based businesses.

Internal Perspective Only

Consultants are the worst, amirite? Many businesses know that they know their business better than any external voices. But you can also become completely blind to the things that are obvious to folks outside your business, including new customers. Seeking external perspective on how your business is perceived can reveal vital data for your branding and marketing efforts.

Spend without Measuring

Everything you spend money on contributes to or counts against your bottom line. Do you know where your marketing dollars fit in that equation? It takes hard work to set up an accountable marketing budget with data to clearly evaluate the effectiveness of your efforts. You count every dollar on the way in, why not count every marketing dollar on the way out? Always work with outside partners who share this concern for accountability as well, or you’ll see a constant stream of money depleting your marketing budget every month.

Small Business Marketing Mistakes

Not Modernizing

“Oh yeah, we know we need to update this eventually.” These words have probably been uttered a few too many times in millions of small businesses. I agree that not every business can be on the cutting edge all of the time. But certain things like mobile friendly website, social media engagement, and secure hosting environments are not just vital to success, but without them you may see active damage come to your reputation. Don’t feel pressured to update everything at once, but establish a schedule and a plan to modernize your tools, your image, and your message.

Market Without Strategy

You may have a business strategy, but you might not have a clear marketing strategy. Without a clear marketing strategy, you might be totally missing a relevant audience for your products or services or an effective way to reach them. Forming a clear marketing strategy makes you go back to the roots of your business goals and ask, “What is the shortest route to reach our goals?” You are also then able to identify metrics to track over time to establish whether or not you have been effective. They say without a target, you are sure to miss every time. Form a strategy the you can review yearly and work that strategy through accountable methods as mentioned above.

They say without a target, you are sure to miss every time.

Spending Too Little

Fear can often sabotage our marketing efforts before we even start. I am victim to this myself. I honed my marketing skills in the non-profit sector where “budget” was an imaginary unicorn for marketing. But I warn small businesses when initiating a new strategy that if they don’t put the proper spending behind it (specifically advertising efforts), you are bound to see disappointing results. Make sure you understand what a recommended minimum of spending would be for any particular marketing effort before you begin.

Spending Too Much

I can’t mention spending too little without also mentioning that throwing money at a problem doesn’t always fix it either. If you watch your metrics carefully, you will find a point of diminishing returns on many marketing efforts. Maybe there just aren’t that many potential customers in a particular neighborhood. At that point, increasing the saturation of ads or mailers won’t fix anything. It will just drain your budget. If your strategy and measurements mentioned above are solid, you will be able to throttle and limit your spending wisely to obtain maximum impact.


While you are not likely to make all of these makes, you are certain to make at least one of these marketing mistakes as you run your small business. It’s ok! As long as you commit to reviewing and growing your marketing efforts, you are certain to improve over time and see greater rates of growth from your work. Whether you need help with branding, web, or a real digital marketing plan, let us know.


Scott Bothel

I'm a digital marketing consultant living and working in the Greater Seattle area. My passion is to help small businesses leverage web marketing to accomplish great things!